Saturday, October 31, 2015

5 years down...

On my crashiversary I always think back to my 66 days in the hospital. Not able to speak, breathe, or eat for 18 days, not able to move my head from the pillow. I have come so far, mostly because of the support of my community and a little determination on my end :) One of the most exciting things this year is that I am beginning to sweat again, I am getting stinky armpits and sweaty feet! This means that my nervous system is starting to work like a "normal" body!

I can finally admit I am scared shitless of being in the car. Getting in my truck feels OK but takes a lot more work, getting in the van is torture every time. I was never a good passenger, I preferred being the driver, especially on country roads and if I was the passenger my slogan was "slow equals love". Slow down with your passengers and enjoy the ride.

I am so thankful I am in downtown Carmel and can go out without getting in the car. I appreciate the time that I have here because it could change at any moment. I can zip up to the gallery, meet friends for dinner or check out a great exhibit at the Center for Photographic Art where I am on the Board of Trustees. I seem to avoid the beach not because I don't love it but because it still hurts. I avoid the things that bring me sadness and focus on the things that bring me happiness, and there is a lot to be happy for.

Everyday gets easier as I learn to live again. After 5 years I have a pretty good idea that everyday is an adventure and as I change and get stronger I learn more. I miss traveling but now I am on my craziest journey of all. I often think about my solo travel to Cuba 8 months before my accident and how the lessons I learned on that trip were in preparation for this "journey". We are all part of a much bigger picture.

The biggest lessons I've learned on this 5 year journey is to be patient, be understanding, never give up and to laugh at yourself. I accept that this is a life long struggle that I will always be fighting and that is ok, I know I can do it. Life is a struggle, this is why there are sunsets and art and music, because life is also beautiful. I am now brought to tears at the stars in the sky and the sunlight through the trees. The struggle is more real, the beauty is more real, the love that I feel is more real too. I laugh at road rage, how can somebody get so angry at something so silly, life is so much more. Everyone has their struggles, no one has it easy but getting upset about the little things is not a way to live. More than anything I know that my injury is not just my struggle, it is my family's, my friend's, my community's and we are all healing together.

I am learning to put my body first. The first year of my rehab I still felt that I could stay out late, I wasn't going to miss the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Big Sur! But I quickly learned that I cannot do that anymore. I have learned that I need my sleep and I need my schedule. I prefer to be home warm and cozy in my bed rather than out in a loud, cold place. Maybe I'm getting older or maybe I'm just learning that my body can only heal if I let it...priorities. I can't spend hours in the chair, it makes my body hurt and my energy low. Battling exhaustion every day is one of my biggest challenges and I do everything I can do avoid that, drink water, sleep, exercise, movement, breathe...

I miss push ups more than crunches, dirt roads more than city streets, beer more than liquor and sunrises more than sunsets. Everyday gets easier and everyday I get closer to independence again. On this crashiversary I want to say thank you again to my family and friends who have supported me every step of the way and to my amazing caregivers who get me out of bed every morning and tuck me in at night. I love you all...

MRI of my spinal cord before the surgeries. The first Doctor at Santa Clara didn't want to do anything so I was quickly transferred to Stanford. Thanks Buddy...

This is an xray of my neck after my first surgery, 4 screws and 2 rods. Yikes!

Xray after my second surgery, add in 4 more screws and a plate. Believe or not I have more range of motion than most because I work at it every freaking day!

My current show up until Jan. 2nd at Gallery Exposed!



  1. i have so much love and respect for you Rachael, my niece. I've loved you since you came into this world and will continue to be amazed and inspired by you!! xox

  2. Fabulous post sweetheart, thank you! Words of wisdom hard won! You deserve every bit of beauty in the world! Xo

  3. Rachel, you helped Guru take photos at my daugher's wedding in 2008. I read your posts, blogs, and follow your photos and want to tell you how you inspire me, and I thank you for sharing your story. You are truly a beautiful light in this world. thank you

  4. So well stated, Rach. I feel your love. Your pain. Your humor. Your strength.